CHILD FRIENDLY URBAN DESIGN: CHILDREN ARE NOT WELCOME TO PUBLIC SPACE
Children are not welcome to public space
Child friendly urban design
As urbanization continues to grow, the relationship between residents and the city continues to change. And some focusing on small city dwellers – children. Yes children are also participants in the city. However the current urban environment has many problems for children’s participation. How to create a child friendly city is a question we need to think about.
Problems faced by children in urban public spaces
There has been a lot of discussion about an incident. An ordinary cafe in South Korea was labeled as no children allowed. Some supportive people arguing that it was a way to avoid being disturbed by children. However, some of the opponents are concerned about the isolation of specific groups. Without discussing whether this is the right thing to do or not, it does reflect the plight of some children in the city – isolation and intolerance. In addition to this, there are many other issues. Such as transportation, crime, expanding vertical cities, and lack of public areas that affect children’s activities in the city.
Figure1. A no-kids sign on the door of a cafe in Seoul, South Korea, on May 16 (Lau, C. et al. (2023).
The Child-Friendly City Initiative
The Child-Friendly City Initiative (CFCI) is an initiative launched by UNICEF and UN-HABITAT in 1996. This initiative support municipalities in realizing children’s rights at the local level as well as focus on make cities livable for all. CFCI based on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and reflects the overarching principles of it on the Rights of the Child:
Figure2. The overarching principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Building a child friendly city ).
The initiative also aims to protect the rights of every child, and to give every child access to inclusive social protection. So that they can live in a safe and sustainable environment. The outline of a child-friendly city can be seen in these principles and goals.
What makes a city child-friendly?
There are various answers to this question. Tim Gill in his book No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society(2007) describes a child-friendly city as one that allows for ‘everyday freedoms’. After ten years later David Driskell in his book Creating better cities with children and youth: a manual for participation (2017) lists several factors: social integration, interaction and engagement, variety of interesting activity settings, safety, freedom of movement, peer meeting places cohesive community identity, green areas. About the key factor-safety, Jane Jacobs proposes “eyes upon the street” (The Death and Life of Great American Cities, 2016), in which she believed that people were the main force in controlling public safety in cities, so the “surveillance” of the human eye is very important.
Practices of child-friendly public space
- The policy of Vancouver’s family-friendly
Vancouver’s family-friendly housing policy of the 1990s, which doubled the proportion of children living in the city center through initiatives such as lower-floor family homes, play spaces for children, and safe walking routes within a half-mile of school daycare centers.
Figure3. Children enjoying themselves in a play space (Family Fun Vancouver, 2021).
- Paths between nurseries, schools and parks marked by street paintings
Similarly, Bogotá has created spaces for children to play in another way-street paintings and botanical gardens mark the routes between kindergartens, schools and parks, reducing traffic speeds and creating new spaces for play.
Figure4. Children are coloring the streets (What would the ultimate child-friendly city look like? 2018).
- Children’s nature playground
Rotterdam has transformed open spaces in city parks and forests into nature playgrounds. As a result, children have more ‘wild’ space to play safely and freely. And this open space attracts 35,000 visitors a year.
Figure5. Children exploring the ‘wild’ space (What would the ultimate child-friendly city look like? , 2018).
Children, as participants in the city, are gradually having their rights and interests taken into account in urban construction. Although children still face some difficulties in urban spaces, we can see more and more successful operations of child-friendly public urban spaces. And we also believe that children’s rights and interests will become a basic consideration in the construction of the world’s cities in the near future. More child-friendly cities will continue to emerge.
Lau, C. et al. (2023) In country with world’s lowest fertility rate, doubts creep in about wisdom of ‘no-kids zones’, CNN. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2023/06/24/asia/south-korea-no-kids-zone-intl-hnk-dst/index.html (Accessed: 15 October 2023).
Voce, A., 2018. Cities alive: designing for urban Childhoods. Children, Youth and Environments, 28(2), pp.78-81.
Building a child friendly city (no date) UNICEF. Available at: https://www.childfriendlycities.org/building-child-friendly-city (Accessed: 15 October 2023).
Gill, T., 2007. No fear. Growing up in risk averse society. Londyn: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
Driskell, D., 2017. Creating better cities with children and youth: A manual for participation. Routledge.
Jacobs, J., 2016. The death and life of great American cities. Vintage.
What would the ultimate child-friendly city look like? (2018) The Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/feb/28/child-friendly-city-indoors-playing-healthy-sociable-outdoors (Accessed: 15 October 2023).
Family Fun Vancouver (2021) New Playground Alert: Creekside Park Playground, Family Fun Vancouver. Available at: https://www.familyfuncanada.com/vancouver/creekside-park-playground/ (Accessed: 15 October 2023).